What is your role?
I’m originally from Newcastle and ended up working in insurance following an internship whilst I was at university. I had never considered joining the industry before I got a taste for it in 2013. As a languages graduate I wanted to work in a global environment where I could work and communicate with a wide range of people. I joined the Marsh graduate development programme and worked in a number of areas including SME proposition development and as a project manager in the Corporate CEO’s office. I’ve always been interested in technology and the ways in which it is changing our world. I got the opportunity to join our Communications, Media and Technology Industry Practice to lead our research and thought leadership and have more recently added client management to my role.
Outside of work I am Chair of the Next Generation Insurance Network (NGIN) which helps to connect young professionals working in and around the London Insurance Market. It’s so important to develop a strong network of support and friendship and being involved with NGIN has opened up so many opportunities and more importantly I’ve met some fantastic people through it.
What factors allow you to bring your full self to work?
a. How does your environment make you feel involved and included?
I think the most important thing that allows you to bring your full self to work is the people around you. I’m very lucky to work with people who are social, and regularly check-in with each other to see how things are going. Having a social atmosphere of working together is a big help. I also get involved with other projects across the business which helps me to understand what’s going on in the rest of the business. Understanding the bigger picture has always helped me to feel involved at work. Employee resource groups are also a great way to bring your full self and meet like-minded individuals.
Do you think there is improvement needed? What are your ideas?
I think insurance still can be a daunting place for some people as there is still an element of people who all look, act and think in the same way. Whilst the industry has changed for the better over the past few years, improvements can always be made. One of the best ways of changing this is accessing people who haven’t yet “bought in” to the diversity and inclusion message. One of the things we have found works well with NGIN is to provide a space for people to learn about what the benefits are by being more inclusive. By engaging with these people and showing that it isn’t about turning the world upside down to their disadvantage, a big step can be made to having a more inclusive industry.
What was your first motivation to be involved with the LGBT+ community? How has this most positively influenced your experience?
The opportunity to learn new perspectives on the industry led me to getting involved with the LGBT community. In my career so far I have been mainly focussed in the young professional space of Diversity and Inclusion. However, there is so much crossover with other communities when creating an inclusive industry I am pushing myself to go to as wide a variety of events as possible. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. So far, I’ve learned a lot about how much has changed, but also about how much further we have to go as an industry.
Can you tell us how the business has been improved by LGBT+ people bringing the best of themselves to work?
Any business stands to gain a lot by everyone, including LGBT people, bringing the best of themselves to work. NGIN has benefitted from a variety of thought and perspectives which help us to shape the events which we host and helps us to make sure that our events are as welcoming and accessible to the widest audience possible. By having an environment where everyone is included, people worry less about what others might think about them as individuals and focus more on how to bring be the best at their job.
Do you have any advice for someone who isn't out at work yet?
My advice is to do what feels right for your own situation. There are many people who have been in the same situation in the past so it is good to seek out someone who can act as a sounding board and guide. There’s lots of support to be yourself and you will be surprised at how much people are supportive.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to be brave and get out of your bubble as quickly as possible. The world is a much more interesting and exciting place when you’re open to all the different perspectives and possibilities! Have the confidence to say yes to every opportunity.
Can you describe the moment you realised you were a role model?
I think I realised that I was a role model when I became Chair of NGIN. Leading a committee of 15 people and a group of around 50 Advocates meant that all of a sudden I had people who were looking to me for decisions and also looking at my style of leadership. It was a scary prospect! As time has gone by, I’ve got more confidence in my decisions and with managing the committee. However, there’s always room to learn more!
What do you do on a day to day basis to be a positive role model?
Every day I aim to treat people with respect and open to everyone’s perspectives. I also try to show that young professionals can add meaningfully to the conversation by coming up with ideas and contributing. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support and resources I have and therefore I try and share examples of best practice that I see across the market and openly talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to be a good role model?
The best way to be a good role model is to be supportive. Everyone has a unique and important perspective. Have no assumptions and make no judgements.
What are you doing outside of your organisation to be a good role model?
I read as much as possible to understand issues from different perspectives as I think that the more you know, the more you can challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. I try to approach life as calmly as possible, be there for my friends and family when they need me and push myself to experience as much as possible.
Who is your most memorable role model and why?
There are a few people that stick out in my memory for being great role models. I think the best people I have met have all had the following in common. They have been great at including people in their work and making sure that they are contributing. They also are the first to admit that they got it wrong sometimes. However, they learned from the experience and apologised. Good role models that I have had also knew exactly what they brought to the table and how they were able to help. I think that understanding who you are and what your values are is incredibly important.
How did you feel coming to your first Link event?
My first Link event was around business travel considerations for the LGBT community. I found the community incredibly welcoming and was really impressed by the cross section of the industry which was represented by LINK.
How has the Link network helped you?
The LINK network has been a big help to me. It’s a great forum to share ideas and experiences. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet great people who I otherwise would not come across in my day-to-day in the industry.
What do you think Link can do in the future to best serve the new generations?
I think the new generation of LGBT insurance professional face unique challenges coming to an industry which has traditionally been less diverse than other sectors. I see LINK as a way of providing support for managers to manage young LGBT professionals and as a platform to support to the next generation by bringing people together who have been in similar position. For the next generation, NGIN are always keen to collaborate!